BY OLA AJAYI & GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE
IBADAN – DISSATISFIED with its unchallenged bombing activities in the North, Boko Haram has threatened to extend the reign of terror to southern parts of the country.
Leaders of the sect said yesterday that their radar was now on University of Ibadan (UI), University of Benin (UNIBEN) and 18 other universities, which they said they would bomb between yesterday (September 12) and September 17.
Boko Haram sent an e-mail last Thursday to the mail box of UNIBEN Registrar, notifying the institution of its resolve to bomb the university as part of its agenda to stop western education in the country. Last week, there was a bomb scare at the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa.
In the purported e-mail, the Islamic Sect gave September 12 to 17 as the target date to detonate bombs at the higher institution, warning that the message was “not a threat, but a notification which must be strictly adhered to.”
The sect declared that it had listed University of Benin alongside 19 other universities where it planned to explode bombs within the stipulated period it gave, saying “Western education must stop in Nigeria. May Allah bless us.”
In order not to be caught off guards, UNIBEN authorities yesterday beefed up security at the two campuses of the institution. Security personnel thoroughly searched every car moving in and out of the institution.
Vanguard gathered that against the backdrop of the threat, several students of the university have voluntarily stayed away from the institution as a precautionary measure to avoid being victims of the planned bomb blast.
Contacted yesterday, the University Public Relations Officer, Mr. Harrison Osarenren confirmed the receipt of the Boko Haram threat e-mail message.
However, there were indications yesterday that many of the students were unaware of the threat as lectures went on smoothly.
UI receives threat too
Relatedly, UI management also confirmed Boko Haram’s threat to bomb the university between 12 and 17 September.
The rumour was confirmed yesterday by the Acting Vice Chancellor of the university, Pro. Elijah Afolabi Bamigboye while speaking with newsmen at the institution
The threat led to serious panic among the staff and students and there was heavy security presence at the main entrance that is opposite Agbowo Shopping Complex.
Many staff and visitors going into the campus were subjected to thorough search by security operatives who were armed with AK 47 rifles and bullet proof jackets.
Motorists entering the institution waited many hours in a traffic snarl and this affected all vehicles coming from Ojoo end of the road.
Prof. Bamigboye, who said he too was subjected to thorough search, said the security beef-up was necessary to check any eventuality.
His words: “We heard rumours that a group which detests education is likely to descend on institutions where education is being imparted. We heard that UI is top on the list. When we heard the rumour of threat to bomb UI, we did not want to take chances. We’ve heard of experiences in the past, especially the recent bombing of the UN house in Abuja as well as the Force headquarters which left several people dead. The essence is to sensitize the community and to alert the people on the rumour. We directed the security department to step up screening of all vehicles into the campus. My car too was subjected to thorough search this morning.”
The don condemned the threat and the accompanying traffic logjam saying it was not the best for the institution’s image now that some foreigners were preparing to come.
“You can imagine if such international people were to come to UI now and face this traffic snarl. Of course, they will go back and who knows, they could go back to their country to spread the information that Nigerian universities are not safe,” he lamented.
For a host of southerners, it used to sound like news from distant lands even though it was so close as newspapers, television and radio stations buzzed with reports of deadly bomb explosions detonated by the dreaded Islamic Sect, Boko Haram, in many Northern cities including Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
For about a year now, counting from the October 1, 2010 Independence Day twin bomb explosions in Abuja, Boko Haram had stepped up its campaign to stop western education in Nigeria with a series of bomb blasts including a recent car-bombing of the Police Headquarters, Abuja and the bombing of the United Nations office in Abuja, which claimed scores of lives and with property worth millions of Naira destroyed.